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Pharmacy First service for acute cough launches in Liverpool

More than 100 pharmacies across Liverpool are now offering a 10-minute point of care test that differentiates between bacterial and viral infections as part of a new clinical service agreed by Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group and Community Pharmacy Liverpool.  

The FebriDx test from Lumos Diagnostics will be used for patients with an acute cough under a new minor ailments service known as Pharmacy First, to enable rapid diagnoses and appropriate antibiotic prescribing without the need for a prior GP appointment.

The single-use, portable, in vitro diagnostic test is intended to give point-of-care semi-quantitative measurement of C-reactive protein (CRP, a non-specific indicator for acute inflammation, which can be raised in bacterial infection) and qualitative measurement of myxovirus resistance protein A (MxA) in human peripheral whole blood.  

“It is often difficult for healthcare providers to determine if a respiratory infection is bacterial or viral without this type of rapid testing because the symptoms are nearly identical,” said Peter Johnstone, head of medicines optimisation at Liverpool CCG.?

“FebriDx lends itself to the Pharmacy First initiative really well –?the test uses a small finger stick blood sample to differentiate a bacterial from viral acute respiratory infection in just 10 minutes."

 The test has been in use in some UK hospitals and GP surgeries for three years, but this is the first time it has been used in the Merseyside region.? 

“Our goal is to provide patients with more convenient access to testing and treatment for acute cough under a new Patient Group Direction (PGD),” said Matt Harvey, chief officer, Community Pharmacy Liverpool.

“With the high volumes of patients with coughs and respiratory problems during the winter season, we see a real opportunity to bring this test into local pharmacies to help us provide treatment for patients more quickly – without the need for a GP appointment or prescription first.” 

According to the CCG, clinical studies show that this test allows healthcare providers to rule out bacterial infections for their patients with 99 per cent confidence, which can help reduce the unnecessary use of antibiotics and reduce antimicrobial resistance. Further information on the FebriDx test can be found in NICE Medtech briefing 224. 

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